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Chula Vista Student Diagnosed With Whooping Cough

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August 17, 2009

A 7-year-old student who attends Discovery Charter Elementary School in the Chula Vista Elementary School District has been diagnosed with pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.

The student was up-to-date with vaccinations.

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency is working closely with school district officials, who are notifying the parents of all children who may have come into contact with the ill child.

“We continue to see an increased amount of whooping cough cases this year,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer.

“It’s extremely important for parents to ensure that they and their children are protected against vaccine preventable diseases including whooping cough. No vaccine provides 100 percent protection against infections, but being immunized often makes the symptoms less severe if a person does become ill.”

Named for the "whoop" sound children and adults sometimes make when they try to breathe in during or after a severe coughing spell, whooping cough usually starts with flu-like symptoms, such as runny nose, sneezing, fever and a mild cough.

These symptoms may be mild and brief, or last up to two weeks, but are often followed by severe coughing fits that may be associated with vomiting. Fever, if present, is usually mild. It is treatable with antibiotics.

Whooping cough can occur at any age, but infants and young children are at highest risk of life-threatening complications, the most common of which is pneumonia. In adolescents and adults, rib fractures and difficulty sleeping may occur. Anyone who is not immunized is at a higher risk for severe whooping cough.

It is recommended that children get five doses of DTaP vaccine, one dose at 2 mo., 4 mo., 6 mo., 15-18 mo., and 4-6 years of age. It is also recommended that people 11- 64 years of age receive a one-time dose of Tdap, given in place of a “tetanus booster,” which is administered every 10 years.

There have been 83 cases of whooping cough in San Diego County this year. In 2008, there were 51.

For more information about whooping cough, please call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (619) 692-8661, or visit the Web site at

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